Cold and extremely dry start to the weekend

Published 1:49 pm Saturday, January 29, 2022

By Skip Rigney

It would be interesting to know if skin lotion sales rise today at local stores. Dew point temperatures near single digits with an air temperature of 50 degrees will result in outdoor relative humidities in the 20 to 30 percent range on Saturday afternoon. Suck that air inside your house, raise its temperature to 70 degrees with your heating system, and the relative humidity indoors could be as low as ten percent. That can result in dry, itchy skin or sinus problems for some folks, especially in a population accustomed to a more humid environment.

Saturday will continue the colder-than-average trend that has been prevalent since mid-January. However,the first half of the upcoming work week will be noticeably milder with high temperatures flirting with 70 degrees and nighttime lows dropping no lower than the 50s Monday through Wednesday.

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Despite today (Saturday) starting out near freezing and staying chilly, high pressure, in combination with the extremely low humidity, will keep skies clear and bright blue. In fact, if you’re dressed warmly, or simply looking out your living room window, it promises to be a beautiful day.

Sunday looks to be a carbon copy of Saturday in terms of plentiful sunshine. What many will consider an improvement compared to Saturday is that warmer air will be moving into the region from the west, raising Sunday’s afternoon temperatures into the 60s, which will be 10 to 15 degrees warmer than Saturday. A slight increase in humidity may provide a little relief to those whose skin or sinuses suffered from Saturday’s extremely dry air, but most people won’t even notice the 25 degree increase in dew points that is expected.

By Monday, onshore flow will pump milder and more humid air northward into our region from over the Gulf of Mexico while winds aloft bring clouds and moisture from the Pacific. That will prime the pump for rain as an upper low pressure system moves across the area Monday night and Tuesday. Even after the low passes to our east, mild and moist air will remain, bringing a chance of showers and possibly significant nighttime fog Tuesday night, Wednesday, Wednesday night, and Thursday.

Sometime Thursday the next strong cold front is expected to sweep through the Gulf South. A line of showers and thunderstorms ahead of the front will be followed by sharply colder air behind it. Though there is still considerable uncertainty about exactly how cold it will get, hard freezes are possible next Friday and Saturday morning with daytime highs only in the 40s.

Those who prefer warmer weather will find the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC’s) outlook for February hopeful. Of course, average climatological temperatures are higher for the end of February than at the beginning.

But after a colder-than-normal start to the month this year, CPC gives better than even odds that conditions during the last half of February 2022 will be even warmer-than-average along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida, including south Mississippi.